Malin Akerman: My Son Speaks Three Languages!

10/19/2014 at 02:00 PM ET

Malin Akerman Environmental Media Awards Jason Merritt/Getty

First steps? Been there. First words? Done.

Malin Akerman‘s baby boy Sebastian has learned a rare new skill: He’s is trilingual!

“I feel like every day is a milestone, but he’s running and walking up and down steps on his own now talking three languages, so it’s amazing,” The Comeback star said at Saturday’s Environmental Media Awards, hosted at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.

“Whenever he sees his dad he starts speaking Italian, he sees me and starts speaking Swedish, and his nanny speaks English,” she explains. “So, it’s really just amazing to watch how a child’s brain works.”

As for what surprised her most about motherhood, Akerman — who welcomed Sebastian in April 2013 with now estranged husband Roberto Zincone, an Italian actor — told PEOPLE, “everything and nothing.”

“I still to this day, every now and then, wake up and go, ‘I’m a mom? That’s crazy! I’m responsible for a person’s life? I don’t know what I’m doing!’ ” said Ackerman, 36. “I guess the most surprising, although everyone tells you, is the love that you feel for your child. You need nothing else in the world but your child. That’s it. He’s the air that I breathe.

She’s also teaching her son to be responsible. At just 18 months, Sebastian is getting an early start at being eco-friendly.

“I have solar panels, I have a hybrid car,” Akerman told PEOPLE of her sustainable household habits. “We turn off light switches, which is very exciting for Sebastian because he loves turning off and on lights, so he helps me turn off the light switches when we leave a room. He’s just tall enough to reach that.”

— Michele Corriston with reporting by Nicole Sands

FILED UNDER: Malin Akerman , News , Parenting

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Showing 45 comments

Marcia on

Three languages at 18 months?! Either she’s exaggerating or he’s a genius.

Shia on

@Marcia if each of the three people she mentioned are ONLY speaking to him in that language it’s not impossible for him but at 18 months he’s not speaking that much anyway. I’m surprised by the italian because his dad only wanted to see him every other weekend based on the divorce papers

Victoria on

I don’t think it necessarily makes him a genius. The best time to teach children a new language is when they are first learning to speak. My siblings and I grew up speaking Spanish and English immediately. I consider both to be my first language.

Hea on

Children are amazing when it comes to learning languages.

Julie on

Well Malin speaks 4 languages, so it’s not inconceivable that her son would have inherited her talent for learning languages…

guest on

Most children in other countries are at least bilingual; many know three or more languages or dialects. My immediate and extended family are all at least trilingual, and it’s a non-issue. It’s not about being “smart”, it’s just the way it is. Unfortunately, most U.S. schools only start teaching a second language at an age where it is much more difficult for the average person to gain fluency.

Ahh on

I’m surprised at 18 months he reaches light switches.

Claire on

I’m with the majority of the other posters. If the main people in his life each only speak one (different) language to a child, they just grow up knowing all of them. Kids are sponges, they absorb everything. I went to college with a woman from Finland who raised her twins with her husband who was from Turkey. She spoke only Finnish to them and her husband spoke only Turkish to them. They picked up English from everyone else in their life.

meta on

“rare, new skill”…. Really?
And
to the commentors on here who think ” lies or genius”… To the rest of the world a (bi)trilingual child is neither rare or new. Its normal!!!

guest on

Those are nice languages to know but French is especially nice. People are always impressed when a person can speak French. French is so beautiful that all of the royal families of Europe decided to learn French as a common language to communicated to each other in.

Essie on

My kids could understand and speak words of 4 different languages by the time they were 18 months. French, Spanish, and Italian are somewhat similar, so they pick it up, but have no idea they are different- and I am sure they are/were confused at times!

diana on

When I told the woman who did daycare for my then 18 month old son that he could read 20 words, her response was “That’s wonderful, Diana, but can he tie his shoes?”. Thank goodness for new mothers having someone in their life who can interject a little common sense and humour. I always joke that my son (now 33) has that daycare worker to thank for any semblance of sanity in his life.

Silvia on

I am Italian, my husband is British and we live in France. My twins have been trilingual since the start, and it has never been a problem for them.

Guest on

“Those are nice languages to know but French is especially nice. People are always impressed when a person can speak French. French is so beautiful that all of the royal families of Europe decided to learn French as a common language to communicated to each other in.”

Don’t talk bullsh!t.

Guest on

My children have grown up learning two languages from birth, English and Spanish. It is amazing to see how fast they absorb at such a young age. I wish I had learned Spanish earlier. I started at 22 and 9 yrs later it is still a challenge for me. Having the opportunity to learn young is definitely a blessing.

Anonymous on

It’s true kids learn different languages fast because the environment they are in.

Amy on

*eye roll*

Helen on

I believe her. My niece, at 18 months old, speaks words in English, Italian and Portuguese, thanks to her parents from different countries. Like my niece, Malin’s son is probably only speaking a few words but they learn what they hear. If both parents are speaking their native language to them, that’s what they learn. It’s not a hard concept to understand. Just because in America we only learn English, doesn’t meant she’s lying. She said he’s speaking and he’s not ‘speaking,’ just learning new words. Go easy people and calm down.

Julie on

Children have an innate ability to learn languages. They lose this ability around the age of 12 (it’s not that they’re unable to learn another language after 12, it’s just very difficult. It takes work).

The US does it all wrong when it comes to learning another language. When I was in school, foreign languages weren’t offered until the 10th grade – we never had a chance. I hear it’s getting better, with some schools offering a language in the 5th grade – but that’s still too late.

My 3 year old nephew just started pre-school and he stays after for an hour every day to learn spanish.

Nancy on

Sorry . . don’t believe that an 18-month old can speak three languages. LOL. Give me a break.

Kay on

“Speaking a language” is much different than saying a few words! The next thing we will read is that he is receiving a Nobel Peace Prize!! LOL

Susan on

I wonder if he can say the f word in all three languages since another interview said her son says the f word frequently.

Maureana on

Many of these comments show that most Americans don’t know shit about how things work outside the borders of this country. I’m also from Sweden, and my kids are fluent in both English and Swedish, as we do it exactly the same way as Malin – I speak Swedish when I’m alone with the kids, and my husband speaks English, and they associate me with Swedish, and their dad with English. I assume you’ve never heard of OPOL, which means One Parent One Language. cause that’s what it’s all about. Is that really so hard for you to understand? if it is, I feel sorry for you, and your kids. I myself am fluent in Swedish, English, French, and German. I grew up in Sweden, and we started learning English in 3rd grade, then I started French in 7th, and finally German in 10th. So just STFU all you jealous bit**es who just don’t get it.

Marky on

“You need nothing else in the world but your child. That’s it. He’s the air that I breathe.” Guess we get why their marriage is over. Our first child meant so much to both of us, and still does, BUT he was an addition to our great relationship…he didn’t take the place of it, or become more important than US…….

Debbe on

To everyone who doesn’t believe the child can speak three languages. They don’t say HOW MUCH you can speak. The child could just say I love blue cars to the nanny, and to the dad he could say I am hungry in italian and to the mom he could say I dont feel good in swedish. I have seen children with two parents that speak different languages and they are able to do that even at a young age. People who don’t believe it are people who thinks toddlers know nothing and treat them like they are dumb. My son was a smart toddler because I allowed him to be so and treated him as a human being, like he is important too. When you leave your child in a room with toys and nothing else, then, maybe they can’t do anything…but don’t discredit the toddlers that CAN.

Debbe on

There are some sucky comments on here. Her comment about her child being everything has nothing to do with her marriage that fell apart. I am so glad my mother was just like Malin…she always said we were everything, number one, and she showed it to us. We knew it even if she didn’t say it because she treated us like we were number one. My mother is the greatest, and Malim’s child will think the same thing about her.

Debbe on

To Susan’s comment about the F word. Really? On this beautiful weekend you take the time to make a comment about a curse word? WOW. Sad your life.

Debbe on

To Oink…even pigs are better than you. Why say such a thing. Nothing in her comments say negative. They were beautiful coming from a great mom. I am shocked. I was a single mom from day one, my son is now grown up, but I can’t believe you all could say this about a mom who is now a single mom. Sheesh, give her some kind words.

Debbe on

I miss America the beautiful. All of these comments on here are sarcastic, ignorant and rude. So sad this is the country we have become. The mother has become a single mom and is a good mother, what more could anyone in our country ask for. She isn’t on welfare and she is putting her child first. And yet, there are people who can make fun of her. I don’t get it. So rude you guys.

Ella on

I was fortunate to grow up trilingual. It’s amazing how the brain works like a sponge at a young age. When I learned my fourth language in my early teens in was some work, and now I would dread trying to pick up a new language…

Being able to switch up between languages freely is a gift and I’m thankful to my parents for opening those doors for me. Good on Malin & hubby for doing this.

trost on

My son is 2 speaks multiple languages (self taught) and a drop of english. It’s wonderful when parents have the money and or time to expose their kids to multiple languages early the brain very receptive at that stage .

Kay on

I was born in Portugal and as a young child I was fluent in both Portuguese and English. When I started first grade my parents decided to stop speaking Portuguese to us to help us master English, unfortunately I haven’t picked the language up since then. Going back to Portugal now, most preschools are teaching children a variety of languages because studies of course show that it’s much easier to pick up languages at a young age and increases IQ points in the child’s future. Imagine my surprise seeing my cousin’s four year old tell me about his day in English, then repeats in French, and then again in Italian.

I wish American school gave as much importance to foreign language, not because of the influx of Hispanic immigrants like most arguments for language in school say, but because it’s such a wonderful skill to have and much easier learned as a child.

Anonymous on

My son speaks 3 languages. He is 12 months old.
Yawn.

cindy on

I turn off lights.
I drive a Hybrid.
My 12 month old is potty-trained.
HE speaks pig-latin, like you wouldn’t believe.
The rest of you suck.
Oh, did I mention, the rest of you suck?
Signed,
MA
P.S. You just wish you were me

Bogyo on

hmmm, I guess every kid is different. my son grows up with 4 languages, he is already 6 and he would only speak these languages if he had to. ever since he was born we both only speak our mother tongue to him but since he started nursery at 1.5 in Germany (neither of us is German) he only speaks German to us. maybe because he knows we understand, Im not sure. he has no problem understanding all 4 languages but he only speaks Hungarian to my parents, English when he feels like it and Dutch hardly ever. at 18 months he didnt speak anything but baby language. So far every doctor that saw him said kids that grow up with more languages typically start talking much later than others. so yeah I guess her kid is pretty exceptional🙂

Liz on

By the age of 3 my kids were fluent in 3 languages. Natural with two parents each with their language and living in the states. They then studied a fourth language at school… Fairly common.

Nv on

3 languages at 18 months? Amazing.

Anon on

Three languages is pretty common in my country. I guess most commenters that believe this is untrue are Americans. In other countries, it is pretty common to have a child speaks more than one language. We all do in my family, most people speak up to six languages because my country is a multi-lingual country.

Anonymous on

He could speak 2 more languages when he is 10 years old.

mel on

All 6 of my kids speak a multitude of languages…and our family doctor has said that it because they were all exposed to various dialects from very early on. And if they learn spanish, then something like italian is easy to pick up. While they aren’t 100% fluent in the other languages, they certainly know enough to carry out a fairly decent conversation. Kids are natural born sponges when it comes to learning. No matter what your child’s capibilities, they still absorb everything that goes on around them.

Mint on

Kids learn different languages naturally because they absorb them quick and well than adults.

Hea on

Language is not just how many words you can speak, it’s more about how much you understand at his age.

European royalty among others used French as lingua franca. In the 17-19th Century. Not today.

angie on

3 languages at little over 1 year old, fantastic!

Guest on

Good for her son to learn different languages in the age.

Dan on

Debbe, these kinda of comments happen on almost every newspaper article. Just look at how bad the dailymail comments are, and most of those people are apparently supposed to be from the U.K. Stop overexaggerating.

Also Maureana a couple of comments of on one people magazine article proves nothing. No need to be unintentionally rude.

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